Ethnic Cleansing in Umm al-Hiran: Palestinian, Israeli Leadership React to Deadly Police Raid of Bedouin Village

Palestinian Arab MK Ayman Odeh lies wounded from an Israeli bullets in the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran, Jan 18. (Photo: Keren Manor,

Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat condemned Israeli authorities for the “crime” committed Wednesday during a demolition campaign in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, during which a Palestinian citizen of Israel was shot dead by Israeli police and an Israeli policeman was killed, and numerous Palestinians were injured.

Erekat accused the Israeli government of reacting to attempts by the international community to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis by escalating a policy of “racism, ethnic cleansing, and the evacuation of indigenous Palestinians from their lands, in a desperate attempt to Judaize the country.”

He called attention to the estimated 1.7 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who “are living amid the racist system of Israel,” adding that the demolition Palestinian homes in the Israeli city of Qalansawe had “continued in Qalandiya refugee camp yesterday and in Umm al-Hiran today.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that not holding Israel accountable regarding its role as an occupying power “lessens the credibility of countries who demand reviving and realizing the two-state solution.”

According to the ministry, the government led by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “escalated its aggression against Palestinian existence by conducting daily attacks and field executions against unarmed Palestinian citizens in an attempt to escape its internal crises and take advantage of international and regional changes.”

Meanwhile, Israeli officials were deeply divided on Wednesday over their accounts of Wednesday’s deadly police raid in Umm al-Hiran, as far-right ministers and Knesset members claimed that Yaqoub Abu al-Qian was shot dead while carrying out a deliberate car ramming attack, with Israeli police suggesting he was affiliated to the Islamic Movement and could have been influenced by the so-called Islamic State.

However, numerous witnesses said Abu al-Qian was shot by Israeli police while driving normally, which caused him to spin out of control and crash into policemen, and family members denied his affiliation to the Islamic Movement, insisting he was just a high school math teacher.

Members of the Joint List, which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset, accused police of intentionally covering up the fact that they shot al-Qian in cold blood.

Israel’s Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant meanwhile condemned “the Bedouin violence that awakened this morning,” calling to answer such violence “with a firm hard and uncompromising measures,” Israeli news site Ynet quoted him as saying.

He also accused the Palestinian MKs of “using their status and immunity to disturb security forces as they’re carrying out their assignments. The participation of Joint List MKs in the Bedouin’s protest against the evacuation causes unrest, constitutes incitement, and encourages violence.”

MK Zoabi reacted with outrage to Abu al-Qian’s killing and the demolition campaign, saying that Wednesday’s events were “just like when the Palestinians were expelled in 1948,” Ynet quoted her as saying.

She slammed Israeli media sites for repeating the police version of events, asserting that “this was an incident of expulsion as part of an overall plan of expulsion. You can’t turn it into a vehicular attack.”

“Show what police are doing to people. There are eyewitnesses. Ask the MKs and don’t listen to police who are lying over and over again,” she reportedly said, highlighting Israeli authorities’ record of failing to open investigations into killings of Palestinians by Israeli police.”

Tibi for his part said that “The (Israeli) state treats its Arab citizens as enemies, and that is why even when they are protesting against the demolition of a house — which is part of their basic right for a roof over their heads –they are being shot and killed, and (police) are attacking both citizens and MKs.”

Tibi suggested that Netanyahu was “trying to cover up his own problems by creating a conflict and crisis with the Arab public,” referring to the fact that the Israeli prime minister is currently under police investigation. 

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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